*for more information on exactly what to fear, go out and buy the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter immediately!
I was raised with a pretty bad-assed woman for a role-model. My mom is a black belt, a doctor, and is not afraid to straight up slaughter copperheads with a machete while wearing a lacy nightgown.* She literally gives no shits about what men think of her. That means me and my sisters learned to do all sorts of hard core things growing up. She taught us to build campfires fires in the rain, to saw our own lumber and to build our own goddamn tree-houses. Did we talk about princesses? Sure. She quickly confirmed that we were all three unique and special princesses, each of whom possessed *magical powers* which enabled us to beat boys at things like math tests, arm wrestling contests, et all. My mom is awesome.
*This may be a bit of an exaggeration. I cannot guarantee she was wearing a nightgown.
Anyways, I really want my daughter to have strong role models too. When she reads books, I want her heroines to do more than just marry a handsome prince. I want them to have guts, I want them to be kind, and I want them to be smart, empowered, and earn just as much in pay as their male co-workers do. Basically, I want my daughter to admire more than a poofy dress with giant shoulder pads.
So, while not being too extreme, I've tried to carefully avoid princess culture. If someone else refers to her as a "little princess," I don't make a big deal of it, but I never call her that myself. When I play with her, I try to say to her "you're so funny," "you're so smart," and "you're so kind," as well as "you're so beautiful."
That's why I was very surprised the other day, when Millie was in her bath-tub and she pointed straight down to her new washcloth and told me informatively, "That's a Princex."
What? I looked down hurriedly. She was right! The puffy sleeves were a dead give-away. The washcloth was a trick! It was the kind that comes up crinkled up into a tiny shape, and explodes when you put it in the water and turns into something awesome like a dinosaur, or ...DRAT... a princess.
She looked up at me with pity. "That's a princex." She said firmly. And then, to my horror she added, "I'm a Princex." My heart froze. No! Not my baby! She's too young. She's TOOO YOUNG!
But then she continued. "Mommy is a Princex." She paused carefully, and added... "Daddy is a Princex too!"
At that moment, a ray of warm light blew across the bathroom, and cast upon my poor, soapy brow. My Daddy is a Princex. YES. She's not succumbing to the premature over-sexualization of her body! She's not fast tracked to a life of romantic-conquest-based self esteem, and unrealistic beauty standards! She's just a baby, playing in a tub, and she's trying to learn about the word Princess.
One day, I'll have to battle these societal pressures, but I'm grateful today isn't that day. For now, I just fill my cup and rinse her hair, (I can't help but notice, with a sense of foreboding, that her hair really does look like newly spun gold) But for now, I give her a smile. "Of course," I tell her reassuringly. "Of course your Daddy is a Princex."